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Visits to Suffolk libraries dropped by 60,000 in the past four years

PUBLISHED: 14:46 16 August 2018 | UPDATED: 14:46 16 August 2018

Visitor numbers at Ipswich County Library are at their lowest for four years  Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Visitor numbers at Ipswich County Library are at their lowest for four years Picture: RACHEL EDGE

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Fewer people are visiting some of Suffolk’s libraries than they were four years ago according to new data.

Suffolk County Council revealed in a Freedom of Information request that some of the county’s libraries saw a large drop in their footfall from 2014/15 to 2017/8.

The biggest drop was experienced at Aldeburgh library where there was almost a 40% drop in visitors over the four years. Visitor numbers fell by around 30% at Hadleigh, Lakenheath and Saxmundham, although this final figure was estimated.

Overall Suffolk’s libraries are receiving around 60,000 fewer visits than four years ago.

The difference is even more stark when compared to 2015/6 where the number peaked at over 3,150,000 visits.

Areas that bucked the trend included Kesgrave which saw an increase of 122% in the amount of visits to the library and Glemsford where figures grew by over 100%.

Suffolk Libraries clarified that the figures didn’t include 2014/15 figures for mobile libraries and that figures for Rosehill and Chantry were affected by a closure and an unreliable people counter respectively.

They added that the figures included visits to other services such as internet access ,council services and archives in some areas.

Bruce Leeke, chief executive of Suffolk Libraries, said: “Suffolk Libraries is always looking at new ways of engaging with customers. We do monitor visits and a range of other library data which give a full picture of library use across the county. For example, we know the number of activities and events and the number of people attending these has increased over the past few years and the total number of book loans increased in 2017/18 for the first time in several years.

“We are not complacent about visitor figures and Suffolk Libraries has constantly supported and led new ideas and developments which we hope will improve library use and enhance the services we provide.”

Nearly 150 readers took part in our own survey yesterday. Of those taking part 76% said they visited their local library regularly.

The majority of these, 36%, said they visited once every few weeks while 87% of people taking part said they used their library to borrow books, CD’s or DVD’s.

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